LAHORE, Pakistan – A suicide bomber detonated explosives near a Pakistani paramilitary checkpoint near the country’s eastern border with India on Sunday, killing at least 54 people in the deadliest attack to hit the country in several months, police and government officers said.
The explosion hit near the checkpoint at the Wagah border crossing as hundreds of people were returning from a military parade on the outskirts of Lahore, provincial police chief Mushtaq Sukhera said.
Both the Pakistani and the Indian military conduct daily parades and flag-flying ceremonies on their respective sides of the border. The events draw crowds of hundreds, a number that would rise into the thousands on a weekend like Sunday.
The death toll was likely to rise because over 100 people were wounded, with several in critical condition, Sukhera said.
Jamatul Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Netanyahu will keep religious site open
JERUSALEM – Israel’s prime minister vowed to maintain long-standing worship arrangements at Jerusalem’s most sensitive religious site Sunday.
It is the holiest site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount because of the revered Jewish temples that stood there in biblical times. Muslims refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary, and it is their third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
“Since the days of Abraham, the Temple Mount has been the holiest site for our people and with this, the Temple Mount is also the most sensitive kilometer on Earth,” Benjamin Netanyahu said at his weekly Cabinet meeting.
“Alongside our determined stance for our rights, we are determined to maintain the status quo for all the religions in order to prevent an eruption,” he added.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised Netanyahu’s call for preserving the status quo, calling it a “step in the right direction.”
Hundreds killed in Benghazi fighting
CAIRO – At least 210 people were killed in fighting in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi since troops loyal to the country’s elected government launched an attempt to re-take the city from Islamist militias two weeks earlier, a medical official said Sunday.
The turmoil in Benghazi started when renegade Gen. Khalifa Hifter – a former Gadhafi army chief who joined the opposition decades before the uprising – launched a campaign against Islamist militias which were implicated in series of assassinations and attacks on journalists, activists and security forces in the city.
Hifter won support among large sectors of Libyans but the army units loosely allied with him were defeated and forced to leave by Islamist militias.
Then, the internationally recognized government, led by Abdullah al-Thinni, joined ranks with Hifter and on Oct. 15, launched a wide offensive to retake the city. Until then, Hifter troops had largely fought from bases outside the city.
On Sunday, a security official in Benghazi said government troops have entered a new neighborhood in the city. The official said the troops are carrying out a wave of arrests against Islamist militias and have arrested one of their spokesmen.
Canadian planes launch strike in Iraq
TORONTO – Canadian warplanes involved in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against militants in Iraq have launched their first airstrikes since deploying to the region.
A statement from Defense Minister Rob Nicholson’s office on Sunday said two fighter jets attacked targets in the vicinity of Fallujah with laser-guided bombs and safely returned to their base in Kuwait. Few other details were immediately released.
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